A Haverfordwest couple are retiring after four decades of voluntary service for the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home charity.

Mike and Chris Evans, aged 88 and 84, were part of a small group of dedicated people who helped to realise Father Paul Sartori’s vision for end-of-life care in Pembrokeshire after his death in 1980 at the age of 39.

Mike and Chris’s daughter Cath Rendell explained: “Father Sartori was our parish priest, and he was a particularly good friend of theirs and would call at our house very regularly when we were growing up. My parents were aware along with a larger group of friends and parishioners of his wishes to form a hospice. “He was an amazing man and as a family we were very fond of him. When he became ill, he made it clear that he would like his foresight of the hospice in Pembrokeshire to carry on even though he wouldn’t see that through himself.

“My dad, Mike Stalbow, Ted Wilks, Carmel Gould, Michael Burke and others got together and helped to bring his dreams to life. My mum was the chair of the fundraising committee and did a lot of early fundraising. Dad was a trustee.
“That group of people did all the research and went to meet people and visit hospices to find out the best way to serve the people of Pembrokeshire and keep the dream alive. My parents have been big supporters ever since.”

In May 1981, the Paul Sartori Foundation was formed with a home care service team of six carers. Forty years later in 2021, thanks to the early efforts of people like Mike and Chris, the expanded team provided more than 17,000 hours of hands-on nursing and supplied more than 1,100 pieces of equipment to the public. Nearly 350 people who die in Pembrokeshire are nursed by PSF, so the charity touches so many families just when they need it most.

In recent years Mike and Chris have also served as voting members – volunteers who provide practical support for the foundation and help in its decision-making.

Their son David is currently chair of the trustees.

At the AGM on September 20, one of the charity’s Trustees Paul Lister paid a warm tribute to Mike and Chris.

Paul said: “Mike was an original trustee and has been at the forefront in driving the charity to where it is today.  From the beginning Chris has been a force to be reckoned with in raising funds to ensure the future of the charity.

“Along with other stalwart volunteers, she organised and attended balls, generated raffle prizes, and sold thousands upon thousands of raffle tickets.
“She also organised door to door collections and worked in the shops – to name just a few of the fundraising incentives!
“Both of them were involved in the original ‘bed push fundraiser’ alongside Anthony Sartori, Father Paul Sartori’s brother. They were both involved in one of the first New Year’s Day swims. They organised family fun cycle rides and the original car raffle.”

The charity presented the couple with an honorary voting member certificate and Paul added: “Chris is the epitome of our core values by having a ‘can do’ attitude and investing in and valuing our staff and volunteers.
“Chris’s fundraising efforts and determination over the years have inspired so many people and our income generation office is now called the ‘Chris Evans Room’ to inspire our team and volunteers who work there day today and those who will be a part of the foundation’s future.
“We want to thank Mike and Chris for their outstanding contribution in providing good end of life care in Pembrokeshire.”

The couple will now have more time to themselves, and daughter Cath said it will give them a chance to catch up on gardening, a particular pleasure, and for her father to continue cycling which he still enjoys despite his advanced years.